Computerworld reported on discussions of internet voting at the RSA computer security conference. Doug Chapin observed that while the latest felony voter fraud stunt (this time in New Mexico) was possible in was nevertheless still wrong. PolitiFact Florida determined that Stephen Colbert’s observation that shark attacks are more common than voter fraud was “mostly true.” Advocates for Latino voting rights criticized redistricting maps drawn by a Federal court. The majority Tory Party in Canada was implicated in robocall scheme aimed at suppressing voter turnout in Ontario. With all genuine opposition to the Supreme Council banished, different conservative factions vied in Iran’s Presidential election, while Valdimir Putin is expected to win re-election in an election widely perceived by many Russians and outside observers as unfair and Senegal is headed for a run-off after no candidates received a majority of the vote in their Presidential election.
- National: Internet voting systems too insecure, researcher warns | Computerworld
- Blogs: Election Stunts: Just Because You Can(ine) Doesn’t Make It Right | Election Academy
- Florida: Are shark attacks more common than voter fraud in Florida? | PolitiFact Florida
- Texas: Minority groups: New voting maps ‘total devastation for the Latino community across Texas’ | Associated Press
- Canada: Storm brews in Canada over election ‘robocalls’ | AFP
- Iran: Conservatives contest poll for parliament | BBC News
- Russia: Putin may win the election but for Russia political stability is over | guardian.co.uk
- Senegal: Runoff likely as Senegal counts votes | Al Jazeera
Internet voting systems are inherently insecure and should not be allowed in the upcoming general elections, a noted security researcher said at the RSA Conference 2012 being held here this week. David Jefferson, a computer scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories and chairman of the election watchdog group Verified Voting, called on election officials around the country to drop plans to allow an estimated 3.5 million voters to cast their ballots over the Internet in this year’s general elections. In an interview with Computerworld on Wednesday, Jefferson warned that the systems that enable such voting are far too insecure to be trusted and should be jettisoned altogether. Jefferson is scheduled to participate in a panel discussion on the topic at the RSA conference on Thursday. Also on the panel are noted cryptographer and security guru Ron Rivest, who is the “R” in RSA, and Alex Halderman, an academic whose research on security vulnerabilities in e-voting systems prompted elections officials in Washington to drop plans to use an e-voting system in 2010.
“There’s a wave of interest across the country, mostly among election officials and one agency of the [Department of Defense], to offer Internet voting” to overseas citizens and members of the military, Jefferson said. “From a security point of view, it is an insane thing to do.” A total of 33 states allow citizens to use the Internet to cast their ballots. In a majority of cases, those eligible to vote over the Internet receive their blank ballots over the Web, fill them in and submit their ballots via email as a PDF attachment. Some states, such as Arizona, have begun piloting projects that allow eligible voters to log in to a web portal, authenticate themselves and submit their ballots via the portal.
The insecurity and the inability to audit such voting practices are unacceptable, Jefferson said. Ballots sent via email, for instance, are transmitted in the clear without encryption. That means any entity, such as an ISP or a malicious hacker that sits between the voter and the county where the vote is being cast, can view, filter, substitute or modify the ballot, he said. Meanwhile, the e-voting Web portals that have been proposed for use in Arizona and are being tested in other states are prone to all the security vulnerabilities and attacks that other sites face, he said.
As one example, he pointed to a 2010 attack crafted by Halderman, an assistant professor of computer science at the University of Michigan, against a Digital Vote by Mail System that was proposed for use in Washington. The system was designed to be used by overseas voters and military personnel based in other countries.
- Internet Voting: Will Democracy or Hackers Win? | PBS NewsHour
- David Jefferson: If I can shop and bank online, why can’t I vote online?
- Small coding mistake led to big Internet voting system failure | FierceGovernmentIT
- Ballot Secrecy Keeps Voting Technology at Bay | Scientific American
- Online Voting: Just A Dream Until Security Issues Can Be Fully Addressed, Experts Say | Courant.com…
A recent story out of New Mexico has made Buddy, pictured above, the latest (would-be) four-legged cautionary tale about the nation’s registration system. Buddy’s owner was walking across campus a while back at the University of New Mexico when he saw a voter registration booth. He said he decided to “test” the system by submitting an application for Buddy using a fake birth date and Social Security number. A short time later, he had a voter registration card for Buddy in hand – and took his story to the media to “expose” the flaws in the state’s election system, saying “[t]hey should verify. Somebody should have verified this information and somebody should have come out and took a look at exactly who it was.” Let’s go ahead and set aside this notion of in-person followup visits – can you imagine this person’s reaction had he received such a visit in response to a legitimate application? – and focus instead on this notion of “testing” the system to expose its perceived flaws.
Any system of laws and procedures requires two things in order to succeed: widespread acceptance and effective enforcement. In other words, the answer to the question “why shouldn’t I [insert prohibited action here]?” is always –
- Because you might get caught and suffer the consequences; AND
- Because it’s wrong.
It’s true that, in this case, local election officials were unable to ascertain that a registration application submitted in person by a human and written and signed in human hand was actually on behalf of a dog. It’s also apparently true that Buddy’s application passed (or was never subjected to) a match for birthdate or Social Security number. It’s also true, however, that Buddy’s owner engaged in activity that can be considered a crime under New Mexico law; specifically, providing false information in order to obtain a voter registration in someone else’s name. He may claim that “he has no intention of voting under Buddy’s name,” but that’s likely to be a question for investigators, prosecutors and (maybe someday) a jury. [UPDATE: He has also apologized– though it isn’t clear if that’s because of #1 or #2 above.]
- Are shark attacks more common than voter fraud in Florida? | PolitiFact Florida
- Republican Commits Voter Fraud By Registering Dog As A Democrat | TPM
- Dog In Voter Fraud Stunt Belonged To Heather Wilson Senate Campaign Staffer | TPM
- Charlie White sentenced to one year on home detention | The Indianapolis Star
- State election commission finds no dead voters | CarolinaLive.com…
On March 1, 2012, Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert moved in on Florida’s controversial new election law for a recurring segment, “People Who Are Destroying America.” The target: a Panhandle teacher named Dawn Quarles, who turned in 76 voter registration forms from her students beyond the state’s new 48-hour deadline. She could face a $1,000 fine. One of the people Colbert interviewed for his sarcastic report is Howard Simon, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida. Florida officials claimed they needed to pass the law to prevent voter fraud, but these cases are actually pretty rare, he said. ”There are probably a larger number of shark attacks in Florida than there are cases of voter fraud,” he said. We couldn’t resist diving in: Are there more shark attacks than cases of voter fraud in Florida?
Florida regularly leads the country in unprovoked shark attacks. In 2011, Florida’s 11 attacks comprised 38 percent of the nation’s total and 15 percent of the world’s attacks. Volusia County, home to the spring-break mecca of Daytona Beach, had the most attacks (six). While the shark attack figures are cut and dry (sorry!), the voter fraud numbers are not. There could be more cases than we know about, involving more people. The numbers may not represent total voter fraud cases, as those could be handled by local supervisors and state attorneys. Also, one “case” may represent multiple counts of voter fraud, perpetrated by multiple people, said agency spokesman Chris Cate. He points to a November 2011 case that resulted in the arrests of nine people from the North Florida town of Madison, including the supervisor of elections. On the other hand, the fraud list does not count only convictions. So some of these cases could be proven unfounded.
… The ACLU’s claim is true on its face, but we’re knocking it down a peg with consideration of a few things. One, the state’s count doesn’t represent a complete set of possible fraud being prosecuted in the state. Two, a “case” does not always include just one instance of fraud. Using the Madison case as an example, we know nine people were arrested in just one case. We rate this Mostly True.
- Election Stunts: Just Because You Can(ine) Doesn’t Make It Right | Election Academy
- Charlie White sentenced to one year on home detention | The Indianapolis Star
- High court takes over Secretary of State dispute | RealClearPolitics
- Indiana election chief found guilty of voter fraud | The Associated Press
- Stephen Colbert’s Super PAC: Testing the Limits of Citizens United | TIME.com…
Disheartened and angry over the latest Texas voting maps handed down by federal judges, Democrats and minority rights groups looked Wednesday to a separate court in Washington as their last likely hope of cutting deeper into a solid Republican majority in the 2012 elections. The GOP stands poised to hardly lose any power under the latest Texas congressional and state House maps delivered this week by a San Antonio federal court, which confronted how the state’s political boundaries should be changed with more than 3 million new Hispanic residents. Minority rights groups who sued the state over the original maps – drawn by the Republican-controlled Legislature last summer – received from the court Tuesday what will likely be the maps used this election year. They slammed those maps as a disaster, but with the twice-delayed Texas primaries on track for May 29, they also now face long odds of getting the lines redrawn yet again. ”This was a total devastation for the Latino community across Texas,” said Luis Vera, attorney for the League of United Latin American Citizens.
Seeking to illustrate how poorly the maps were drawn, Vera met reporters at a San Antonio intersection where three separate congressional districts would converge. One district goes north 80 miles to Austin; across the street, another district begins that stretches more than 550 miles west to El Paso.
On Tuesday, LULAC joined with the NAACP and three other groups in asking the Washington court to expedite its ruling on whether the Texas Legislature’s original maps violate the federal Voting Rights Act. They hope that a favorable ruling from the Washington court will compel the San Antonio court to go back and alter districts ruled to be in violation.
Full Article: News from The Associated Press.
- Redistricting impasse delays Texas primary until May 29, at the earliest | Houston Chronicle
- States line up to challenge stringent Section 5 voting rights provision | The Washington Post
- Redistricting Judges to Lawyers: Get to Work | The Texas Tribune
- Judge refuses to halt new voter ID law, but trial date to be set | Wisconsin State Journal
- Texas Redistricting: Deal or No Deal? | Roll Call
A probe into “robocalls” that misdirected Canadian voters to fake polling stations during last year’s election, won by Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Tories, is casting suspicion on the results. It is not yet clear who was behind the automated telephone calls to voters in the town of Guelph, Ontario in spring 2011 that reportedly led to a chaotic scene at a polling station, and likely led some to give up on voting. The opposition parties, whose supporters were apparently targeted, pointed fingers at the Conservatives, but the Conservatives denied any involvement while hitting back at what they claimed was a “smear campaign.” Elections Canada, after being inundated with complaints, is now investigating the rogue calls, aided by the federal police, as new allegations are raised daily. At a press conference on Tuesday, outspoken New Democratic Party MP Pat Martin described the misleading pre-recorded calls claiming to be from Elections Canada as a “heinous affront to democracy.” ”How is this different from a bunch of goons with clubs blocking the door to a voter station,” he said.
Liberal MPs also expressed suspicions that the “robocalls” may have been part of a coordinated effort to discourage supporters of the Liberal and New Democratic parties from getting to the ballot box. Elections Canada traced the calls to a single telephone number that showed up on call displays and a disposable “burner” cell phone registered to an unknown “Pierre Poutine” at a fictitious address in Joliette, northeast of Montreal. (Poutine is a Quebec dish of French fries smothered in cheese curds and gravy.)
According to court documents cited by PostMedia News, the cell phone was used to set up an account to make the phony calls two days before the May 2 election at an Edmonton, Alberta call center. The call center company, Racknine Inc., worked for the Tories’ national campaign, but said it was unaware that its servers were being used to make “fake calls.”
- Canadian Conservatives Acknowledge Vote Suppression in 2011 | WSJ.com…
- Government shifts blame in robo-call scandal | AFP
- In wake of robocalls case, Cardin seeks new federal law against election tricks | The Washington Post
- Robocall vote suppression vies to be Canada’s own Watergate | Straight Goods
- Santorum Robocall Asks Michigan Democrats To Vote For Him | TPM
Voting in Iran’s parliamentary election has been extended by two hours because of a high turnout, state media report. It is the first poll since mass opposition protests were sparked by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s disputed presidential election victory in 2009. The vote is widely viewed as a contest between his supporters and those of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The opposition Green Movement is not taking part. Its leaders have been under house arrest since February 2011.
Early on Friday, Iranian TV broadcast images of Ayatollah Khamenei casting his vote in the capital, Tehran. He said it was a “duty and a right” for Iranians to elect members of the 290-seat parliament, the Majlis. ”Because of the controversies over Iran and increased verbal threats the more people come to the polling stations the better for the country.”
Moving from one polling station to another in central Tehran, you can see marked differences in voters’ behaviour. In some places there were long queues of people wanting to cast their ballots during the morning, while in others there were not.
Full Article: BBC News – Iran conservatives contest poll for parliament.
- Iran election results show Ahmadinejad rivals making gains | The National
- High turnout reported in Iran for parliamentary elections | The Washington Post
- Iran: 48 million voters denied information, 48 journalists denied freedom | Reporters Without Borders
- Key constituencies disillusioned as Iran votes | Reuters
- What’s at stake in Iran’s elections | Asia Times
Supporters of Vladimir Putin are treating his win of the residential election on 4 March as a foregone conclusion – and they’re probably right. Yet as the old adage goes: “Be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it.” Even as the opposition’s protest movement in Russia continues unabated, Putin remains the most popular politician in the country. He has no strong competitor in this election – according to the latest data from the Levada-Center, Russia’s largest independent polling agency, 63 to 66% of voters who say they are coming to the polls will cast their ballot for Putin. Putin himself has warned that protest rallies following the elections could turn dangerous, because provocateurs from abroad are looking for a “sacrificial lamb” among the famous opposition members. None of this – the numbers, Putin’s own view of the situation – is all that surprising. But what makes for genuine news is that whichever way you cut it, Putin’s third term in the Kremlin is going to be difficult in an unprecedented way; because this much is clear – his government faces an inevitable decline.In January, political expert Stanislav Belkovsky wrote on OpenSpace.ruthat Russia is heading down the path of a second perestroika – and that Putin knows this, the man is no fool. Being in charge of a perestroika is a thankless business. As Belkovsky wisely noted, Soviet citizens did not suddenly gain new love and appreciation for their government when state censorship came to an end, for example. We can see a similar process taking place today – electoral reforms have been introduced in the wake of the protests, but are they placating the opposition? Hell, no.
- Russian election insider outlines fraud | The New York Times
- Putin set to reclaim the Kremlin in Russian vote | The Star
- Election Watchdog: Putin supporters ‘using illegal methods to ensure victory’ | Telegraph
- Putin Warns Opposition, Talks Of Conspiracy Theory Ahead Of Vote | Huffington Post
- Russia will stand up to Putin, says jailed former oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky | World news | The Guardian
Senegal’s presidential vote appears set for a runoff, with results indicating that Abdoulaye Wade, the incumbent president, has failed to win an outright majority. Tallies reported since voting finished on Sunday night show Wade leading and Macky Sall, a former prime minister, close behind, suggesting the two will face each other in a second round, expected to take place between March 18 and April 1. Sall, who directed an earlier re-election campaign for Wade, said on Monday that he had won Dakar, the capital, and several major towns. Sall and Idrissa Seck, the mayor of Thies, are the main opposition challengers seeking to unseat Wade.
Wade, 85, was seen as the favourite to win in the first round, with the opposition split between 13 candidates. His chances would diminish in a runoff, as most of the opposition would probably rally around a single challenger. Wade is seeking a third term amid criticism from the opposition that he is trying to cling to power after changing the constitution, and had earlier claimed that he would win “a crushing majority”.